The coronavirus pandemic is bringing out the worst and the best in some people. People are suffering because of shutdowns and isolations, and coronavirus fear has gripped the world. Even as communities are under different labels of quarantine — ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, MGCQ, TOTAL lockdown — thousands are still holed up at home due to health concerns over COVID-19. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Yes, there’s been too many heartbreaking anecdotes, some of them closer to home than others. But now and then, a ray of beautiful sunlight comes through with the most inspiring story, one that I will not forget any time soon.
Nic is a 38-year-old IT executive from Ohio, who had no idea how he contracted COVID-19 back in March. He had a headache and fever, then cough, so he thought he had the flu. He was brought by his wife to an urgent care facility, but shortly after being given treatment for suspected pneumonia, he passed out. He was then rushed to a hospital and there, he tested positive for COVID-19.
Nic Brown sat in isolation, struggling to survive on a ventilator. The one window he had to life outside his hospital room, became the most impactful window of his life.
His caregivers in the intensive care unit (ICU) used that pane as a medium for uplifting messages. Nic said that while he was on ventilator and full life support, the staff wrote on the window the goals that he was encouraged to try and reach each day.
One day someone wrote, “We will get you home.”
To return the favor, Nic penned a letter to his care team as he was being moved from the ICU to a step-down unit at the hospital.
This is what he wrote. “This window has been the most impactful window in my life. On days when I watched you work hard to keep me and other alive… Unable to thank you for the time that you poured into me and although I will probably not get the chance to pour that same love and support into you, I want you to know that I think you are all rock stars. I watched some of you have good nights and some bad nights but what was consistent every night was that you care for people. Today I leave this ICU a changed person, hopefully for the better not only because of your medical healing and God’s direction and guidance… But with the fact of knowing there are such wonderful people dedicated to the care and concern of others. God bless each of you.”
Part of why he left the note on the winder was because he wasn’t sure he had ever seen such selfless people in his life. He really saw the love of God through them. They didn’t know him, but they cared for him like he was a member of their family. For Nic, it had been life-altering.
As this pandemic has been for all of us.
I have three reflections from this powerful story of Nic.
First, the word WINDOW. The window — an open window — or transparent glass window in an ICU room, symbolizes hope… opportunity… fresh air or bright lights peeping in.
During the lockdown, doors and gates of houses, businesses, factories were closed. But we stayed connected because of our open digital WINDOWS.
Second reflection, CARE FOR PEOPLE. Medical and health workers give CARE. The symbol of CARE is HEART. For us Filipinos, the heart is the symbol of courage and strength of spirit, also symbolizing love and care. After all, the root word of courage is the Latin word COR.
It symbolizes sacrifice and compassion, deep compassion.
Our doctors, nurses, medical technologists, healthcare professionals and care providers have given nothing but compassion, care and even love in the most courageous manner — defying the risk of severe illness and even death — to save lives.
Third reflection, GOD’s DIRECTION and GUIDANCE. “I really saw the love of God through this people,” wrote Nic.
I remember catechism lessons in grade school. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Let all our caring actions be guided by God’s direction.
For us in healthcare, our vocation is to be healers and providers of caring for those who are sick. Vocation comes from the Latin word, vocation, derived from vocare, which means “to call.”
If our vocation is to serve as doctors, nurses or care providers — if our vocation is a calling, who is the caller… who is calling us?
As Nic Brown, the healed COVID-19 patient, witnessed it, “I really saw the love of God through these people.”
Those three elements WINDOW, CARE FOR PEOPLE, GOD’S DIRECTION AND GUIDANCE… are no longer just words. They have become a powerful symbol of kindness, hope and love in the most desperate, dark moments of suffering alone, not knowing if tomorrow will come.
My prayer is that this pandemic will end soon, as God guides us to be a kinder, gentler people who love more than hate not because there is a pandemic, but because that’s what life must be about.